The Worst Dictionary Definition Ever? The OED on Technology

When the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) revised its definition of technology in 2009, it produced one of the worst dictionary definitions ever for a fundamental scholarly term. In its definition, the OED conflates two fundamentally distinct meanings, technology as applied science and technology as the industrial or mechanical arts.

That the OED would muck up its definition of technology is especially unfortunate. No other dictionary comes close to the OED for authoritative definitions of English words. And technology is no marginal concept, but rather a central keyword of late modernity, a concept that evokes not just rational productive activity but also utopian expectations and dystopian fears.

Continue reading